Do people really think the BBC is biased?

Do people really think the BBC is biased?

But although more people think the BBC has a left wing bias than a right wing one, the most popular answer in the survey was actually “No – it is neutral” with 37%. In fact once you add in the 23% who, in the fine spirit of the BBC, didn’t offer an opinion you get 60% who don’t think it is biased.

Whether this number is too high or too low is another debate but what’s interesting is that most of the accusations of bias seem to come from one side. 44% of Conservative voters and of UKIP voters say the BBC has a left wing bias but fewer than one in five (19%) Labour voters believe the BBC has a right wing bias.

48% of Labour voters (and 53% of Liberal Democrats) call it neutral and supporters of the Scottish National Party actually think it is right wing (28% neutral, 28% right wing).

The things I try to bear in mind when reading these results are that “BBC’s left wing bias” is more of an established trope and complaint on the right than “BBC’s right wing bias” is on the left.

There are always complaints of the BBC being biased against whichever side the complainer happens to be on but the most common instances of this tend to come from newspapers which lean to the right. These also happen to be the ones with the highest circulations and the news agenda-setting powers that come with that.

The survey also came out after criticism of the BBC by Conservative chairman Grant Shapps, saying it had a “culture of secrecy” and by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith for using the term “bedroom tax”, arguing that the use of that phrase promoted Labour’s view of the reduction in housing benefit for people with a spare room.

These complaints are more likely to have been echoed in newspapers and websites which are sympathetic to the Conservative party and therefore more likely to have reached the ears and eyes of Conservative or UKIP voters than Labour voters.

Despite this, 61% of Conservative voters believe that “the BBC’s news reporting is generally accurate and trustworthy”, not far short of the 67% of Labour voters who agreed with this as well.